Canton Ave.

For more than three decades, the Dirty Dozen Bike Ride has challenged cyclists to climb 13 of Pittsburgh’s biggest and baddest hills. Now another race is taking advantage of the city’s unique topography, inviting intrepid runners to tackle the staggering slopes of Beechview.

Hell on Hills is being billed as “the world’s steepest 5K.” That title is deserved: the race begins with a jaunt up Canton Avenue, a road with a 37% grade that’s often called the steepest street in the world. From there, runners will encounter three more mighty hills, including a quarter-mile leg on Bousted Street, whose 29% grade makes it another of the steepest streets in America.

The race, scheduled for October, continues in the vein of mud runs and ultramarathons, extreme running challenges that have gained popularity in recent years. But Hell on Hills is about more than just testing the limits of the human lung. “This is a great opportunity to show a wider audience something we’ve always known; Beechview is a great community,” explains City Councilwoman Natalia Rudiak. Organizers hope the race adds one more reason to visit the burgeoning Beechview neighborhood.

Race founder and runner Bethany Ruhe stresses that despite the intimidating name, runners of all levels should feel welcome at Hell on Hills. “We designed the course to be incredibly challenging, but doable,” she notes. And if your calves are aching just thinking about the race, Rudiak urges you to come be a part of it anyway. “Our hope is that if you’re a Pittsburgher and you’re not running the race, you’re going to be out here cheering the runners on.”

Hell on Hills will take place on October 15th, 2016. Registration is now open, with an early bird rate of $30 for the next two weeks. Visit the Hell on Hills website to learn more and register. Want to know more about Beechview? Check out NEXTpittsburgh‘s just published guide.

Drew Cranisky is a writer, bartender and recent graduate of Chatham University's Food Studies program. He enjoys cats, pinball and fancy burgers.